The Lake of Dreams is Kim Edwards second novel. Her first, The Memory Keepers Daughter, was from all acounts excellant. I haven’t read it because when my mum got me a copy for my 24th birthday, I accidentally left it in the sun room and my dog ate it.
Come my 27th birthday and I got my mum a copy of Tobsha Learner’s ‘Yearn’ (yes, our birthday’s are on the same day) and she wrinkled her nose up, said Eww and told me she only had Toshba’s earlier book because my Dad had purchased it. I read ‘Quiver’ when i was 14 and loved it – next year I’ll get mum a voucher. She got me a copy of The lake of Dreams – hopefully next year she’ll get me a voucher too.
Despite my misgivings, I actually enjoyed the book and read it in 2 days while I was home sick from work. It’s about a woman called Lucy who has a terrible habit of running away from her own life. Unemployed and with her current reationship at a standstill, she returns to her mother’s house in a small town called the Lake of dreams. Lucy soon discovers the town – and the people in it – are not exactly what she remembers. feeling like an outsider in her own hometown, Lucy becomes enraptured with the story of a long lost relative – the tragic Rose and her beloved daughter Iris.
But tracing the history of Rose and the mysterious and beautiful glass windows she is somehow connected to, forces Lucy to look closely at her own family and how the past and the future are crashing together for the Jarrett clan. With her partner Yoshi far away, and uncertain of their future together, Lucy finds her heart stirring for an old flame.
The story weaves together history, family discord, beautiful scenery and heartbreak and presents it to you in an easy, flowing package. Lucy is believable as a character and if i personally didn’t like the choices she makes throughout the book, well that just makes her more realistic to me. A complex and well researched narrative, the Lake of Dreams has made me think perhaps getting a non-chewed copy of the Memory Keeper’s Daughter wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.
I always thought I’d read quite a bit by Isabel Allende. I know i’ve read City of the Beasts, because I bought it for my mum when I was younger and I always end up reading the thing is buy her. And I’ve read Daughter of Fortune and enjoyed it. But I read the blurbs to My Invented Country and Portrait in Sepia and Zorro – books I could swear I’ve read – and nothing rings a bell. I can see I’ll have to grab them from the library in the near future, along with Aphrodite and the other auto-biographical books.
Anyway, I’m glad I picked this up. I’ve heard it described as a ’sweeping’ historical novel and I think that’s an apt description. One that I’m trying hard to explain, but apt. It’s a long book – I read it over two nights and was very, very tired for both the following days. But it doesn’t get boring, it doesn’t have any filler bulking it up – you get the feeling Allende actually CUT stuff in order to fit this many pages, the prose is perfectly streamlined and exacting – and every word is brilliant. Allende doesn’t tell a story, she weaves one. Each thread is determined, examined, introduced and then entwined. The end result is a beautiful story, full of detail.
It’s the story of Zarite, a mulatto slave on a St Domingue (now Haiti) sugar plantation. Bought to care for the master’s enfeebled wife and young son, Maurice, Zarite is repeatedly raped by Toulouse Valmorain, the owner of the plantation, and bears him two children, the second of whom she is allowed to keep. When the plantation is overwhelmed by rebel forces, Zarite and her lover save the master and his son in exchange for her freedom. When they arrive in New Orleans, Zarite begs Toulouse to let her go, but he refuses, instead keeping her on his new plantation despite the aggravation of the new mistress over the existence of Rosette, the beautiful quadroon daughter of Zarite and Toulouse, and her relationship with Maurice.
Ok, so the story is impossible to sum up in short paragraphs. Just read it. Make the effort, it’s worth it!
When I told Richard that I finished this book, he asked if it was any good and the only word I could find to describe it was devastating. And then I sat at the computer for 20 minutes trying to write a review that didn’t include a spoiler. It’s still not coming easy.
This book is set in a post-apocalyptic America where zombies (the shuffling, moaning kind, not the super fast ones) attempt to feast upon the scattered living population while hillbilly mutants distill the zombies into chitin-inducing stimulants. And in the middle, a fifteen year old girl is trying to get redemption for her sins, but that redemption is following too close on her heels for her liking. And if you are not already racing off to beg, borrow or steal your own copy from that brief endorsement, then you are dead to me (with a pencil shoved into your brain via your nostril to make sure you stay that way).
The book has some quirks. Dialogue isn’t contained within quotation marks and at times it’s a little hard to tell if the main character, Temple, is talking to herself, someone else or just inside her own head. The technique adds to the ambiance of the novel however, and is worth taking the time to puzzle through. The speech patterns and dialect of the characters is also peculiar. It is how I imagine people would talk in post apocalyptic America where only the strong and ruthless survived and then spent a little too much time alone with only themselves to talk to. The only inconsistency I found was that Temple is illiterate and was raised in an orphanage and in foster care before setting out on the road, but her speech is peppered with words and ideas far above what you’d expect for her position.
The book is full of lofty ideals slightly twisted by the fact that there are zombies staggering around trying to eat people. Temple believes in God, a god “too big to need the supplication of the puny wanderers of the earth”. She believes in fate and beauty and revenge. And she tries, in her own way to live up to these beliefs, taking the mute Maury across country to find his family despite the fact that it leaves her open to danger. It’s a novel about the hope of humanity in a country fallen to ruin. And at the same time, the book is a judgment on mankind’s ability to fall back onto base instinct. The ‘slugs’ retain enough memory to hold hands, to climb aboard a still-moving carousel, to endlessly repeat actions they made while alive. They are still human, and yet not. They are driven by a hunger which pushing them forward constantly, despite threat or futility. The want to feed. The need for flesh. Mindless and craving.
The book describes my ideal apocalypse, if ever an apocalypse could be considered ideal. Slow moving zombies are only dangerous if you stay still long enough to have them mob you or if they take you by surprise. Temple has her gurkha knife, but there is no shortage of guns and ammunition left by evacuees. And she picks up 6 packs of coke in abandoned corner shops all across the country. If we must suffer a government-released zombie virus that heralds the end of the world, sign me up to be a reaper.
Filed under Fantasy, Fiction
I have a confession to make. I love trashy crime novels. Something about the combination of lurid sex scenes, gore and suspense just totally does it for me. Especially if it involves a sassy-yet-secretly-damaged female lead and a gorgeous-strong-and-silent-type male. Especially if there is sexual tension for half the book and constant smooching for the rest.
It’s bad fiction. It’s an anathema to literature. And I can’t get enough.
I know that Karen Rose’s books do have a reading order, but it’s fairly loose. The books of hers that I have read have linked together in a way which makes them perfect as stand alones or in sequence – this particular novel is linked to You Can’t Hide (Aidan Reagan, Abe’s Brother) and Nothing to Fear (Dana Dupinsky, Mia Mitchell’s friend) and probably others that I haven’t read. I love the idea of coming back to characters I’ve met before, while being introduced to new ones. This technique means Rose’s books are new and fresh, but with some familiar faces and stomping grounds.
I’m watching you is the story of Kirsten Mayhew, a prosecutor who feels each loss in the courtroom keenly as she pours her whole life into her job. Abe Reagan is also a man living for his work, after the murder of his wife Debra left him hollow and angry. When a serial killers starts targeting criminals who escaped justice ay Kirsten’s hands, Abe and his new partner Mia Mitchell are put on the case. Soon Kirsten and Abe fall in love despite their best intentions, but can he protect her against the growing number of criminals crying for her blood, a vindictive reporter who will stop at nothing to get her scoop and a vigilante killer who dedicates each kill to Kirsten?
Of course he can, but you already knew that. Karen Rose’s novels do have happy endings. The characters always realize that they were meant for each other. The bad guys always end up dead or in jail. And if a few bystanders get shot or maimed along the way, well then you’ll know they wont appear in the next book. It’s crime lite and while there is gore aplenty and enough suspense to make me stay up past my bedtime in order to finish, these books do focus heavily on the romance and s-e-x. Don’t worry – the sex scenes are juicy, realistic and not overly corny. No turgid members here! This attention to detail is also put to good use in character development – Rose’s novels are filled with single mums, single dads, grandparents raising children, dedicated professional types who work long hours and mobsters who just have their families best interests at heart. The main characters and their occupations are documented faithfully, their neurosis are well researched and believable and if everything wraps up a little too neatly at the end, rather than giving up on the series, I’m more inclined to sigh and think “god I wish my life was like that. Maybe I should become a lawyer..”
Filed under Crime, Fiction
I love starting the year with an ambitious reading list. 2011 is going to be such a fantastic year for books and I’m starting it off with some amazing reads.
The Secret of Lost Things
by Sheridan Hay
A book about books! And bookshops! And the main character is an Australian living in New York. What’s not to love?
by Bill Jensen
A book with tools and strategies to simplify and still expand business in the information age.
by Scott Westerfeld
The second book in the Leviathan trilogy set in a counterfactual world where Darwin not only discovered DNA, but how to use it to ‘evolve’ new combinations of creatures to help Britain win World War One. The axis forces use huge machines rather than fabricated ‘beasties’. In this book, Deryn is still posing as a boy in the British Air Services and alongside Alek (the son of assassinated Franz Ferdinand), she is now in enemy territory and must not only escape with the mysterious egg, but pull her new-found friends through as well.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
by Barbara Kingsolver
Kingsolvers famous year of seasonal eating book, which I’m finally getting around to reading!
In Defense of Food
by Michael Pollan
“In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context – out of the car and back to the table.”–BOOK JACKET.
by Kate Elliot
A fantasy novel where a country being rapidly overrun by evil from the North can only be saved by a foreign military band betrayed by their superiors and forced to flee. Oh, and there are giant eagles and horses with wings.
One Second After
by William R. Forstchen
One town in America’s reaction to an EMP attack.
The Brand called You
by Peter Motoya
How to use personal branding, marketing and social media channels to build a successful business based on referrals and exclusivity.